Making meat out of thin air? Impossible. But this startup does it anyway

By Luke Dormehl

How long does it take to make a steak? Depending on the thickness of the meat, you might give a time anywhere between two and three minutes per side for “rare,” and five to six minutes per side for “well-done.” Except that you’d be mistaken. That’s how long it takes to cook a steak. Making one takes considerably longer.

Currently, it takes a couple of years to “make” a steak. That’s the length of time it takes to rear cattle, slaughter it, and get it to your plate. During those two years, plenty of land and water is used as part of the animal rearing and grazing process, kicking out no shortage of greenhouse gases in the future. To make things more efficient, we need new technology.

That’s the idea driving Dr. Lisa Dyson, a PhD in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chief executive of an intriguingly ambitious new startup called Air Protein. Dyson is working on a new approach to making meat that’s more conscious of the space (and other resources) that goes into making meat. Its inspiration? Well, space.

“[My cofounder] Dr. John Reed and I thought ‘what better way to think outside the box than to consider food production on board a spaceship where there is limited space and limited resources?’” Dyson told Digital Trends. “The scientists at NASA considered many ideas about how to grow food in the 60s and 70’s during the Apollo space program. We leveraged some of their ideas and developed a novel technology that is able to make meat out of elements of the air, such as CO2.”

According to Air Protein, those ideas included creating food through a closed-loop system, whereby microbes could be used to convert air exhaled by astronauts into food. Given that astronauts on board Apollo 11 ate beef and vegetables, pork with potato scallops, and Canadian bacon and apple sauce, each individually wrapped in separate packages, it seems this research was never deployed on board those early missions.

Nonetheless, the notion of using microbes to convert exhaled air into food hung around, and Air Protein claims to have found a way to make it into a marketable commodity.

This article appeared on the website at the Digital Trends website at https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/nasa-inspired-startup-trying-to-grow-meat-out-of-thin-air/